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March 27, 2009

Art Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Was the high art of the 1960s the beginning of the end of all good things cultural?

* Charles Moore has some funny jokes and smart ideas about how modernism has reduced itself to absurdity.

* Jeff Weiner reviews Andrew Wyeth's nudes.

* Yahmdallah passes along a funny poem/cartoon that sums up a lot in very few words.

* The English painter David Hockney has decided that the computer is now up to the demands of serious drawing and painting. Here's some of the work that he has produced with Photoshop recently.

* New York Artist Jorge Colombo has been making images on his iPhone. To my eyes, they almost look like little Hockneys.

* Here's an interesting get-to-know-you video about the painter Thornton Willis. I'm curious to hear what watching it makes the realism-vs-abstraction crowd think.

* MBlowhard Rewind: I wrote an introduction to the supertalented American painter John La Farge (1835-1910). In his own time, La Farge was huge. These days he has almost been forgotten.



posted by Michael at March 27, 2009


That Guardian article is amazingly stupid. The writer thinks of "Art" exactly as Tom Wolfe summarized it in The Painted Word: "art theory" designed to show how "non-bourgeois" the patrons and makers and critics are. Abstract expressionism was a form of that game.

What he doesn't like is that the game has changed from explicit hairshirtery to an ironic embrace of "popular" culture and overt ostentation.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on March 28, 2009 1:11 AM

Face it, Hockney is a genius. I knew it was going to be good even before I looket at it.

Posted by: Luke Lea on March 28, 2009 1:12 AM

For a very long time I have maintained that the vast majority of opinions about Andrew Wyeth, whether pro or con, fundamentally don’t get either the artist or his art. Maybe I don’t either, but my view is that his work is best viewed as a form of surrealism, call it Yankee Magical Realism. One of the most cogent voices on the subject of Wyeth is the Maine based arts writer Edgar Allen Beem.

[For an excellent piece on Wyeth check out Beem’s recent article in Down East magazine with thoughts on Wyeth and his art in light of the artist's passing.

A couple of quotes from the article worth sharing:

”Robert Rosenblum probably came close to the truth back in 1987 when, on the occasion of all the hoopla surrounding the release of Wyeth’s cache of “Helga” nudes, he described Andrew Wyeth as “at once the most overestimated painter by the public and the most underestimated painter by the knowing art audience.”

”To my eye, Andrew Wyeth was something else entirely — a death-haunted genius who employed very traditional aesthetic means to conjure a very modern sense of alienation, loneliness, and existential dread.”

Posted by: Chris White on March 28, 2009 10:54 AM

Very interesting video on Willis. As always, only the tight close-ups even come close to revealing anything about the experience of viewing an actual painting. Thanks.

Posted by: Chris White on March 28, 2009 11:10 AM

Like artists haven't always sucked up to people with money. The Guardian article suffers the same flaw as every other single-explanation theory. His point is fine in isolation, but there's a lot going on out there. Art isn't leading anything, it's just one of many egregious examples of decline.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on March 28, 2009 12:37 PM

David Hockney draws just as poorly with a computer as he does with a pencil.

I remember a few years ago he came out with a book that claimed the Old Masters used optical devices to trace their images onto the canvas, because nobody (namely Hockney)could ever draw that well without tracing. Of course, he was totally disproved, yet somehow managed to emerge from the episode with reputation unscathed.

If there is anybody that should be stocking shelves at a Costco instead of drawing for a living, its Hockney. Its people like Hockney that are responsible for the decline in the arts, and the dopes who buy his work.

Posted by: BTM on March 28, 2009 3:11 PM

The sun never shines (or, at best, is a pale wan thing) in Wyeth. So I'd agree that, whether or not he was death obsessed, he was a depressive. And his hyper-realist technique is not in the service of realism, if by realism we mean giving higher priority to outer reality than to the inner ache.

Posted by: ricpic on March 28, 2009 5:08 PM

The modern art definition is definitely applicable to the Hockney and Colombo offerings

Posted by: hello on March 30, 2009 8:26 PM

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